Likes and Comments Aren’t Just Applause

I’ve heard people express discomfort when advised to be more active about clicking ‘like’ or commenting on Facebook posts and other social media, and I can certainly understand. For one thing, I don’t think it should ever be an obligation. Personally, I like what I want to like. I also get the idea that people sometimes see it as nothing more than applause, something to make the subject of the post feel good (not that there is anything wrong with that). However, likes and comments do serve another function I think is important to remember, particularly with respect to participation in the literary community.

I’m talking about the prioritization of posts in places such as update feeds. Consider a post where a fellow writer announces the publication of a new piece and provides a link. If we see that post, we can merely lurk and just read. That’s fine. However, if we click ‘like’ or comment (even to just convey congratulations), more happens than mere conveyance of moral support.

Interactions with posts are often taken into account by the algorithms that decide ordering and selection of posts for presentation. The more likes, comments, and so on that a post has, the more likely the post will be selected to be presented to others. We can share to support posts about publications and other things that we care about, spreading the word, but we can also support by simply liking or commenting.

I’m not trying to convince anyone to like and/or comment on everything that pops up, or make anyone feel obligated. I just want people to think what a like or a comment might do for a post that they do want other people to see. It’s an easy way to participate in the literary community. Just remember that it’s an option.